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Klingon - FAQ

This is the FAQ for the Klingon Mailing List, tlhIngan-Hol.

UPDATED JUL 23, 2005

UPDATED DEC 15, 2003


UPDATED Feb 10, 2002

  • Updated KLI membership prices
  • Site re-design




1. Overview

1.1 Origins of this FAQ
1.2. The Klingon Language Institute and the tlhIngan Hol mailing list

1.2.1 Who are the grammarians? Who's in charge here?
1.2.2 Who's the current Beginner's Grammarian?
1.2.3 Help! How do I unsubscribe from this list!

1.2.4 What's this "welcoming letter" I keep hearing about?
1.2.5 What are the rules for this list?

1.3 What materials are there for learning Klingon?

1.3.1 The Klingon Dictionary
1.3.2 Conversational Klingon
1.3.3 Power Klingon
1.3.4 The Klingon Way
1.3.5 Star Trek: Klingon CD-ROM

1.3.6 The Klingon Postal Course
1.3.7 Klingon Educational Virtual Environment
1.3.8 Klingon for the Galactic Traveler

2. Introduction / Newcomers

2.1 How do I say "my name is..."?
2.2 How do I choose a Klingon name?
2.3 How do I translate "Bubba" (or any name) into Klingon?
2.4 What does KLBC mean? / What is the KLBC?
2.5 I've just finished reading TKD and I'm translating The Illiad into Klingon; anyone want to help?
2.6 I keep seeing words that I can't find in TKD , like mon ; how am I supposed to know what they mean?
2.7 How do I use words like "asparagus" when writing Klingon? Should I write it phonetically in Klingon?
2.8 Why do so many Klingons seem to have names that don't even fit into Klingon phonology?
2.9 What's the big deal with capitalization when writing Klingon?  Is it important?

2.10 I just heard Worf say ooga-booga to Dax.  What does that mean?
2.11 Can we use punctuation when writing Klingon?
2.12 Can someone give me a list of all the Klingon words?
2.13 What is pIqaD ? Does the Klingon writing I see on TV mean anything? Where can I learn how to read/write pIqaD ?
2.14 When is The Klingon Encyclopedia coming out? Where can I get it?
2.15 Where can I get the words to the Warrior's Anthem?
2.16 Where can I go to learn about general grammar terminology? 2.17 Is Klingon included in Unicode?

3. Language Issues

3.1 What's the difference between TENSE and ASPECT? How I do indicate past tense in Klingon?
3.2 Hey! 'IwlIj jachjaj has the wrong word order! What gives?
3.3 How do I quote someone in Klingon. (The guard said, "Stop!")
3.4  How do I indicate an indirect object ("give the knife to me")? Is there such a thing as an IO in Klingon?

3.5 How do I mark the head noun of a relative clause?
3.6 What's this "ship in which I fled" issue? (How do I say, "the ship in which I fled"?)
3.7 Can I use a relative clause without an explicit head noun?

3.9 What does transitive / intransitive mean?
3.10 What is "canon"?
3.11 What is the "prefix trick"?
3.12 Where can I find out about new grammar rules?

1. Overview

This is a collection of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for the official mailing list of the Klingon Language Institute, tlhIngan-Hol . If you have a question about the language or the list, this is the first place to check. This is not intended to discourage discussion of the language on the list; indeed, it's intended to foster such discussion, by making sure that we all have a common background and understanding of the issues before us. This FAQ is not the work of an individual; all our voices are represented here, either through direct quotes, or through an evolution of the understanding (or at least the articulation) of the questions which we consider.

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1.1 Origins of this FAQ

This FAQ was compiled and is maintained by d'Armond Speers ( Holtej ).

I have decided to compile this FAQ, not for my own personal glory and honor, but for the benefit of all those who share an interest in the language of the Klingons. I am not so vain to believe that I have the right or the skill to answer each of these questions, and I do not try to provide the answers to all these questions. The answers presented here are nearly always quoted from members of the tlhIngan-Hol mailing list, who have articulated themselves particularly clearly (in my view), when asked about some feature of the language. Credit is always given.  Thus, this FAQ may be seen as a "Greatest Hits" compilation from the annals of the mailing list.

On the other hand, if there are any inaccuracies, misquotes, omissions, etc., these must be considered errors in presentation. As I've taken on the responsibility of presenting this material, so must I take responsibility for presenting it as accurately as possible.

This FAQ is as much about the Klingon language as it is about the tlhIngan-Hol mailing list. If you would like to see something here that isn't, or change something that is, write me . My homepage is a more appropriate forum for the expression of my ego.

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1.2. The Klingon Language Institute and the tlhIngan Hol mailing list

The Klingon Language Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to the study and promotion of the Klingon language.

Klingon Language Institute

P.O. Box 634

Flourtown, PA 19031-0634 USA


United States











The Klingon Language Institute is a nonprofit 501(c)3 corporation and exists to facilitate the scholarly exploration of the Klingon language and culture. Klingon, Star Trek, and all related marks are Copyrights and Trademarks of Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved. Klingon Language Institute Authorized User.

For up-to-the-minute contact with the Klingon community, nothing beats the Klingon-language email list. It's a large mailing list with most of the top-flight Klingon-speakers as regular posters, as well as speakers of all levels, all the way down to rank beginners.  The purpose of the tlhIngan-Hol mailing list is to provide a forum for people to exercise their Klingon language skills. No additional purpose is intended or implied.

The topics discussed on the list are essentially unbounded. In fact, the wider the range of discussions, the better it will be for everyone trying to expand their skills. The list's official policy is that you may write about anything , if you write it in Klingon; you may write in English, if you're writing about the Klingon language. It is not appropriate to talk about Klingon costumes, customs, etc., or other Star Trek related items, unless you are doing so in Klingon. Don't send letters to the list about computer viruses, political issues like the CDA or other causes, holiday greetings, or things you want to sell, unless you're doing it in Klingon. Don't write to the list complaining that you can't get unsubscribed to the mailing list (see below ), unless you're doing it in Klingon. See a trend here?

To subscribe, use the following URL: http://www.digitalkingdom.org/cgi-bin/lsg2.cgi

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1.2.1 Who are the grammarians? Who's in charge here?

The tlhIngan-Hol mailing list is operated officially by the KLI . Administrative aspects of the list are handled (primarily) by me, d'Armond Speers ( Holtej ). Linguistic aspects of the list are handled by Grammarians. The Grammarians are here to help, mainly by offering their insight and expertise with Klingon, and to keep discussion on-point. Rarely will a Grammarian make a heavy-handed judgement; more often, they will offer advice and direction. The role of the Grammarian was created to allow some "official" view of correct use of Klingon on the list.

The granddaddy of all Grammarians is the illustrious HoD Qanqor (Captain Krankor). Sadly, the Good Captain rarely graces us with his presence any more, having more pressing duties with the Empire. His foremost appointee is Mark Shoulson, who has for years now served as the list's official Grammarian. Mark also goes by Seqram , or ~mark. If you want official, he's it.

In addition to HoD Qanqor and Seqram , there are a number of people who have served as "Beginner's Grammarians" through the years. These individuals each did a tour of duty as the Grammarian of the KLBC, a discussion targeted specifically to the newcomer to the Klingon language and the tlhIngan-Hol mailing list. (You can read more about the KLBC ). These individuals are, in chronological order:

  • HoD trI'Qal (Duffy Doublebower)
  • Holtej (d'Armond Speers)
  • charghwI' (Will Martin)
  • yoDtargh (R.B. Franklin)
  • ghunchu'wI' (Alan Anderson)
  • SuStel (David Trimboli)
  • Qov (Robyn Stewart)
  • pagh (Eric Andeen)
  • taD (Tad Stauffer)
  • DloraH (Rober Cheesbro)
  • Quvar valer (Lieven)
  • ngabwI' (Scott Willis)

These people have been recognized by the official Grammarian(s) as having a high degree of skill with the language, and in general you should recognize their experience and skills. There are also many others who have high degrees of skills, but who have not served in any official capacity; as you spend more time on the list, it should become clear who these individuals are.

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1.2.2 Who's the current Beginner's Grammarian?

ngabwI' (Scott Willis)

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1.2.3 Help! How do I unsubscribe from this list!

When you subscribed, you should have received a welcoming letter with unsubscription instructions, among other things. From now on, be a responsible net citizen and keep those instructional messages you receive when you subscribe to mailing lists.

Manage your subscription using the following URL: http://www.digitalkingdom.org/cgi-bin/lsg2.cgi

I tried that. It didn't work!

Never, never, never send a message to the mailing list (tlhingan-hol@kli.org) complaining about not being able to unsubscribe. In no case will this result in your getting removed from the list. If you continue to send inappropriate messages to the list, the list will be set to ignore you, which means that you won't be able to send messages to the list, but you'll still be receiving messages from the list. If you send impolite or abusive mail to the list administrator, your address will be added to his kill list, and you'll never be able to get a letter to him, and thus never be able to get yourself removed from the list. Also, your postmaster will be notified of your abusive behavior, which may result in revocation of your e-mail access. This is an unpleasant prospect for all.

You can send a polite e-mail message to the list administrator, asking that your name be removed from the list by hand. Your administrator is d'Armond Speers ( Holtej ), speersd (at) georgetown (dot) edu . All polite requests will be processed as quickly as possible, which in some cases may be as long as a few days. Please be patient.

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1.2.4 What's this "welcoming letter" I keep hearing about?

The welcoming letter is sent out by the list software when it receives a subscription request. It contains information about what the list is, how to send messages, what kinds of messages are appropriate, and how to send commands to the list software (such as unsubscribing). Most lists send out such messages; when you join lists, you should save their welcoming letters, so you'll know how to leave when the time comes.

Here's the welcoming letter.

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1.2.5 What are the rules for this list?

The rules are stated in the welcoming letter , but here's a quick summary. Posts to the list can be of two flavors:

  1. Written in English, discussing the Klingon language (grammar, vocabulary, etc.).
  2. Written in Klingon, about anything.

As long as it's written in Klingon, you can write about anything. If it's not written in Klingon, think hard about sending it. Posts that don't conform to these rules are not appropriate to send to the list. In the worst cases, inappropriate posts will result in your immediate removal from the list. Here are some examples of inappropriate posts which will result in your immediate removal from the list:

  1. Posts with vulgar, offending language
  2. Virus warnings (such as "Good Times", etc.)
  3. Political messages ("Communications Decency Act" (CDA) and so on)
  4. Solicitations ("MailCrapper 2000 is the best bulk-mailer on the market!! Buy Now!")

The list's maintainers will be the sole judge of what's appropriate. If you continue to send inappropriate messages to the list (info about Klingon cons, uniforms, fan groups, etc., that don't really have anything to do with the Klingon language), you may be unsubscribed. Just use some common sense, and some demonstrated courtesy.

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1.3 What materials are there for learning Klingon?

(This text quoted from the KLI's homepage .)

If you're just getting started with the Klingon language the place to begin is with Marc Okrand's The Klingon Dictionary published by Pocket Books (ISBN 0-671-74559-X). Dr. Okrand invented the language for Paramount Studios and has been a consultant on several Star Trek films and for episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I also encourage you to purchase copies of Conversational Klingon (ISBN:0-671-79739-5) and Power Klingon (ISBN 0-671-87975-8), two audio cassettes (also by Marc Okrand, with narration by Michael Dorn) which can help you learn the sounds of Klingon and instruct you in some useful phrases. A second book by Okrand is now available, The Klingon Way , a collection of Klingon proverbs and aphorisms.

If you live in the United States, your local bookstore should be able to order these with little difficulty. If you have a VISA or MasterCard, whether you're in the U.S.A. or not, you can order these (and other) materials from the KLI by visiting the merchant page . The KLI makes this service available as part of its mission to promote and spread study of the Klingon language throughout the world.

Once you have the basic materials you will be ready to try our postal course . It is completely free, and open to anyone interested. You might also want to join the tlhIngan Hol e-mail list, probably the best way to keep in touch with other Klingonists. Check out some of the KLI 's other projects , too, and consider joining the KLI as a member.

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1.3.1 The Klingon Dictionary ( TKD )

ISBN 0-671-74559-X

TKD is the first authoritative source for information about Klingon grammar and vocabulary. It is neigh impossible to learn Klingon without access to this resource. Published by Pocket Books (2nd Ed., 1992), this book retails for $10 US. If you want to learn Klingon, you really must have this book.

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1.3.2 Conversational Klingon ( CK )


The first audio-tape teaching the Warrior's Tongue. Hear Klingon spoken by its inventor, and learn useful phrases and words to use when dealing with Klingon-speakers.

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1.3.3 Power Klingon ( PK )

ISBN 0-671-87975-8

Another tape from the Source. Power Klingon contains more phrases and lines to use in Klingon. Learn classic Klingon jokes, insults, toasts, and more.

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1.3.4 The Klingon Way (TKW)

ISBN: 0-671-53755-5

This book from Marc Okrand includes indispensable Klingon proverbs, sprinkled with new words and sentence-constructions. It's sometimes called The Klingon Book of Virtue, which was its working title, so don't be confused by misinformed bookstores. A very useful book for someone who wants to be current with Klingon sayings.

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1.3.5 Star Trek: Klingon CD-ROM

ISBN: 0-671-52873-4

Klingon goes to CD-ROM with Simon & Schuster Interactive's 3rd Star Trek offering. Star Trek: Klingon ventures across the neutral zone and gives us a glimpse of Klingon life, complete with language lab. There is even some powerful voice-recognition software from Dragon Systems, Inc. to help you with your pronunciation. Only the PC Windows version is currently available, though a Macintosh version is expected soon.

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1.3.6 The Klingon Postal Course

Created by David Barron and intended as a supplement to The Klingon Dictionary , the Postal Course introduces students to the vocabulary and grammar of tlhIngan Hol , building comprehension and familiarity as they progress through an eleven-lesson series. To enroll, send a self-addressed, stamped (adequate for two ounces) legal-size envelope to:

Klingon Language Lessons
3489 Wine Barrel Way
San Jose CA 95124

No, there isn't a web-based version of the Postal Course.

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1.3.7 Klingon Educational Virtual Environment

The Klingon Educational Virtual Environment is a MUSH (Multi-User Shared Hallucination) where Klingonists of all levels and those just interested can meet and talk in real-time online. You can access the MUSH by telnet kli.org 2218 .

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1.3.8 Klingon for the Galactic Traveler

ISBN: 0-671-00995-8

The newest book from Marc Okrand.  This book contains detailed information on Klingon dialects, history, and variation.It also contains an updated Addendum to TKD, which makes this book a true necessity for any Klingonist.

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2. Introduction / Newcomers

You've just signed on to the tlhIngan Hol mailing list, and you're getting your mail. You want to introduce yourself, but where do you begin? Do you start in English or Klingon? Do you choose a name for yourself, or do you have a name in Klingon, but you're not sure if you can use it? Have no fear, the answers to these questions and more are here.

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2.1 How do I say "my name is..."?

[ pong as a noun] ( Holtej , Wed, 20 Jul 1994)

pong is a really nasty word, especially since most beginners really want to use it! Using pong as a noun, you'd have to use a pronoun to get the "to be" construction ( TKD 6.3). For example:

Holtej 'oH pongwIj'e'

(My name is Holtej )

[ pong as a verb] ( charghwI' , Wed, 20 Mar 1996)

How many times do we have to respond to "How do I say, 'My name is Fred in Klingon," by evading the obvious verb pong because we simply don't know how to use it?

( charghwI' , Sun, 14 May 95)

We don't really know how to handle verbs like pong , since they require two objects. The subject is the one who is naming or calling. One object is the person being named and the other object is the name. The closest I can come to using this verb is something like charghwI' mupong tlhInganpu' . Still, this is awkward and doesn't work very well when you try to introduce a friend. (Just try it.) "You can call my friend ' Holtej '." Most people fall back to using the noun form. jupwI' pong 'oH Holtej'e' .

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2.2 How do I choose a Klingon name?

(Mark Shoulson, Tue, 10 Sep 1996)

A name is a name. It's what you want to call yourself. From what we've seen in Klingon, names do not necessarily mean anything on the surface, they're just sounds. Just what you'd like to be called. Some people like to make up a name that's an epithet, that has a meaning. So Will Martin calls himself charghwI' /conqueror (based on his first name and a reference to William the Conqueror). Alan Anderson calls himself ghunchu'wI' /perfect programmer. Some people like to transliterate their real names into Klingon orthography (hopefully careful not to break Klingon phonology). Some people like to pick just some random string of sounds they like the sound of (I use Seqram , which is based on my name, Mark S., spelled backwards, but it doesn't mean anything). It's what YOU want to be called. Have a blast.

( charghwI' , Sat, 6 May 95)

A name should probably be a single word, rather than several. A name may have a meaning, though it is at LEAST as valid to make one up which has no meaning at all. The major danger here is, of course, that Okrand might later define such a name to mean something you might not like...

It should preferably be made of "legal" Klingon syllables. By that, I mean:

  1. The character combinations ch , gh , ng , and tlh are each considered to be a single consonant, since they are effectively letters of the Klingon alphabet. Also the apostrophe (glottal stop) is considered to be a consonant as is the y .  
  2. Most Klingon syllables consist of a single consonant followed by a single vowel followed by another consonant.
  3. Some syllables lack the final consonant.  
  4. Some syllables have two consonants after the vowel, but that is only true for the combinations rgh , y' , and w' .

Some names here do not follow these conventions. One presumes these persons were named during some other Emperor's occupation, or from some area dominated by another dialect....

It is strongly preferred that your name be unique. So far, that has not been a problem here. I got mine as a derivative of my Human name. William had no direct translation, but William, the Conqueror fit well into charghwI' . Krankor ( Qanqor ), so far as I know, just made his name up. Holtej chose his name from his profession (like Qel ). It is a personal decision. You should probably spend a little time thinking about it until you find the sound that you will be satisfied to be called by for a long time.

That is, after all, the most important part of the decision.

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2.3 How do I translate "Bubba" (or any name) into Klingon?

(Mark Shoulson, Mon, 8 Jul 1996)

I may have more to say on this thread later, but just think about it a second. How do I say "Mark Shoulson" in Japanese? What does that question mean? Does it mean how would a Japanese speaker pronounce my name to fit the language (maruku shyurusan or something)? Or translate the old, nearly forgotten meanings? Or what? In what sense can you ever say a proper name in a foreign language? What is Binyamin Netanyahu's name in English? Binyamin Netanyahu? Benjamin? "Son-of-the-right-hand God-has-given"?

Languages aren't some simple process you can apply to all spoken items to get one appropriate for each language. A name, usually, is just a name.

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2.4 What does KLBC mean? / What is the KLBC?

KLBC is a discussion forum on the tlhIngan-Hol mailing list, for newcomers to the language. A few years ago, before there was such a thing as the KLBC, we noticed that a newcomer would ask a fairly simple question (how do I say "my name is X?"), and receive 10 opinions on the grammatical nature of double-object verbs, and a tangential thread on transitivity to boot, without receiving a straight answer.

We considered breaking the list up into two separate mailing lists, one for introductory-level grammatical discussions that would bring people up-to-speed, and the high-paced list that tlhIngan-Hol had become. But that would be bad, since our numbers are rather small. And, if we never let people see skillful use of the language, they would be missing a valuable experience with the language. So, the decision was made to keep one, single list, and somehow distinguish between discussions at the beginner's level, and more detailed, esoteric discussions of the language. Thus, the KLBC was born. There's a rotating post, called the "Beginner's Grammarian" (BG), and this person has the responsibility of giving attention to posts directed to the KLBC. Furthermore, posts which are part of the KLBC are expressly off-limits to anyone but the BG, until the BG has responded. Once the level of discussion goes to a depth beyond introductory, it is moved out of the KLBC. Once the BG has responded, the post is fair-game. Of course, if you see a post marked KLBC and you want to comment on the content, rather than the grammar, there's no need to wait for the BG to fire the first shot.

KLBC stands for "Klingon Language Beginner's Conversation."  It started as a suggestion for beginners to have beginner's level conversations with each other, that didn't require advanced skills with the language to follow, and wouldn't become clouded with complex discussions of grammar.  The Beginner's Grammarian (BG) position was instituted to provide beginners with clear, straightforward, and personally-directed guidance with the language.  (Read the original discussions on forming the KLBC in the KLI's archives, available here !)

Today, the KLBC has become less of a "conversation," and more of a question/answer type of forum.  But don't feel you have to use it that way.  If you want to write Klingon in the KLBC, go ahead! 

So, how do you use it?  To use the KLBC, just start your subject of with "KLBC".  Others are free to respond to your post in Klingon; only the BG may address the grammar.

Also, try to exercise some common sense with the use of the KLBC. If a newcomer comes along, how is that person supposed to know of the existence of the KLBC, other than having read this excellent FAQ? If someone starts a message off like, "Hi, I've been here for two days, I'm going to try to introduce myself, here goes!" and then proceeds to use some Klingon incorrectly, don't just jump in with corrections simply because they didn't put KLBC in the subject line. It's obviously a newcomer, obviously needing the BG's attention.

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2.5 I've just finished reading TKD and I'm translating The Illiad into Klingon; anyone want to help?

We're delighted you're here! But, slow down, speed racer!

How do you expect to translate something like "Sing, O goddess, the anger of Achilles son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans", before you've mastered "See spot run"? For some reason, a large number of beginners pick up TKD , and want to dive into the most complicated tasks. Unbelievable.

Here's an idea. Hang around the list for a while. Read everything you see that's written in Klingon. Try some simple, original sentences in tlhIngan Hol , within the KLBC . Write about what's on your mind, what you're doing on a daily basis, tell us about yourself. Work on putting your own thoughts and words into Klingon, before you wrestle with someone else's.

And, if you're still itching to translate, check out the translation projects which are sponsored by the KLI . These are coordinated efforts by skilled Klingon speakers, and there's always room for new, energetic folks to join in.

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2.6 I keep seeing words that I can't find in TKD , like /mon/ ; how am I supposed to know what they mean?

There are many sources for " canonical " Klingon, in addition to TKD . What is the student of tlhIngan Hol to do? Must one buy all the books, both tapes, get all the back issues of HolQeD , buy the CD-ROM, collect all the skybox trading cards, and scour all the episodes of TNG, DS9 and Voyager, just to follow a simple conversation? va !

Fear not. The gracious charghwI' (Will Martin ) has provided a comprehensive, annotated list of all vocabulary that is not immediately contained in TKD . This list is maintained for public consumption on the KLI's website .

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2.7 How do I use words like "asparagus" when writing Klingon? Should I write it phonetically in Klingon?

(Captain Krankor, Thu, 11 Aug 1994)

It is the explicit policy of this list not to do naked transliterations (i.e. transliterations not marked with asterisks (or whatever)). It confuses the *hell* out of people, especially beginners, who often don't know not to going looking up such "words" in the dictionary.

It is permitted but strongly discouraged to do marked transliterations (with punctuation). Transliteration is innately hard to understand and requires an extra level of decryption. The purpose of this list is to communicate with others in tlhIngan Hol , not to be cutesy and clever. It does not profit anybody to have to decrypt that * maS'e'chu'Setlh * is supposed to mean "Massachusetts". It doesn't teach anything useful about the language and is just a pain. In addition, transliteration requires that the person already know what you're talking about in advance. If, for instance, I tell you that I went to *ghlaStIr* , you'd better damn well know your Massachusetts geography (and dialect) in order to know that I'm talking about Gloucester. Still another problem is that some things just don't transliterate well, because they use sounds Klingon doesn't have. This is particularly a problem because different people might come up with different solutions. I may think I'm all clever and all when I come up with *HalIvatlh* or *'elIveqS* , but it is problematic whether or not anybody is going to figure out that I meant "Halifax". In short, one is strongly encouraged to consider the issue from the point of view of the reader , who in most cases, really has his hands full just trying the understand the tlhIngan Hol without having to buy a decoder ring just to grok your transliterations. The point here is not to be "tidy"; the point is to communicate and learn. (It is also understood that formal translation projects do have a legitimate need to be "tidy", so marked transliterations in posts of formal translation works are accepted without complaint).

So, to summarize: marked transliteration is discouraged but acceptable. Unmarked transliteration is unkosher.

Also: when one does use the direct English of a word, one is encouraged to quote it, so that people can instantly see it isn't tlhIngan-Hol . Thus:

chay' "Gloucester"vo' "Halifax"Daq ghoSlu'?

--Captain Krankor, Grammarian

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2.8 Why do so many Klingons seem to have names that don't even fit into Klingon phonology?

(Mark Shoulson, Tue, 10 Sep 1996)

Now, here's a new little tidbit of info. I have to write up a proper report (someday) about the Star Trek 30th anniversary celebration I just came back from, but Marc Okrand did mention something relevant to this discussion in a panel he was holding. Why do so many Klingons seem to have names that don't even fit into Klingon phonology? It's because Klingons are a people (like some Terran cultures) that sometimes take "outsider" names. These are names that are for use with people outside the culture or social unit; names for the offworlders to call them. (I've heard there are some cultures on Earth where it is sensible to say "I don't know what my name is." People there have a private name, known to few or none, a name that's used in his presence, and a name that's used to refer to him when he's not there, which may or may not be the same as any other... and may or may not be complimentary. And may also vary by locale, so I might know what one group of friends calls me, but not another). A fair answer. And these names need not be Klingon in pronunciation, because they're not Klingon names, they're names for Klingons intended for off-worlders.

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2.9 What's the big deal with capitalization when writing Klingon?  Is it important?

Short answer: yes.  Get it right.

Some people argue that it's hard to tell the difference between a capital I ("eye") and lower case l ("ell") in a sans serif font, and it's easier to see the difference if you use a lower case i ("eye").  While this may be true, it is inconsistent with Klingon orthography.  The Klingon writing system is a convention, and it's that way for a reason.  With the capital I ("eye"), the capitalization is meant to be a reminder that the vowel is lax, not tense, consistent with a convention that linguists use, called the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet).  But with other letters, there's a more compelling reason: the letter q is not the same as the letter Q .  They are symbols which represent different phonemes in Klingon, as demonstrated by the minimal pair qub ("be rare") and Qub ("think").  If you get it wrong, you will be misunderstood, and you will be waving a large flag over your head which reads, "I'm a beginner, and I don't really care if I learn this language!"

On this point, Krankor speaks:

(Captain Krankor, Tue, 12 Oct 93)

You know, when you go to France, you don't tell them it's silly to write a c with a thingy on it to make an s sound ("why not just use s ? I always confuse the cedilla with a normal c , and besides, s is so much easier to type!"). Indeed, in a standard ASCII font, there is no way to distinguish a cedilla-d c from a normal one, but, remarkably, nobody tries to change the way we write French on the net. Nobody tries to do sa m'est egal instead of ca m'est egal . Similarly, when you join a tlhIngan Hol group, you don't change the writing either. As far as I'm concerned, it is simple arrogance to come into a group and say "Hey, you know that language you guys have been reading and writing just fine? I'm changing it!"

And, for the record, I personally tend to not read posts that conspicuously do the I wrong. They simply are harder for me to read, and I'm unwilling to put in the extra effort to read it wrong because somebody refused to write it right.

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2.10 I just heard Worf say ooga-booga to Dax.  What does that mean?

(Joel Peter Anderson)

Short Answer:

1) Unless the context of the show makes it clear, we don't know .
2) Unless Marc Okrand explains or defines it in terms of tlhIngan Hol , most Klingonists will not use it.

Long Answer:

From time to time, Trek shows use language identified as "Klingon",  but apparently don't care to refer to the well known language delineated by Marc Okrand. Practically speaking, the constraints of doing a weekly show are tremendous (any weekly show). It shouldn't be surprising that the producers don't worry too much about getting the language right.

Since Okrand himself does refer to other dialects and tongues within the empire, this is not unacceptable, we may pass it off as some other language of the Warrior race. On rare occassions Okrand has backfit terms from the Trek shows into his work.

So, generally the "odd" Klingon words heard on Trek shows (or used in occasonal Trek novels) are:

1) From Klingon tongues we don't know
2) Slang or colloquial usage not yet catalogued in TKD et al tlhIngan Hol sources.
3) Random noise used by artistic license to stand in for real Klingon.

Since the KLI concentrates its focus on the language as defined by Marc Okrand, most Klingonists assume option 3 and ignore them, unless such oddities are approved by Okrand.

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2.11 Can we use punctuation when writing Klingon?

( charghwI' , Mon, 28 Oct 1996 )

Punctuation is the least documented written language convention for Klingon. We have enough of it in  Okrandian canon to know that we can use it, but not enough  to know how to punctuate quotations. We basically have to  make it up ourselves. Lots of us prefer <<quote>> to  "quote" because it doesn't become confusing with the  glottal stop. Beyond that (and even including that) we don't have much agreement.

Updated March 21, 1999

Over time, we have generally settled on these practices on the mailing list, not as a matter of policy, but as a convention.  Posts are not strictly held to the conventions shown here, but if you use this system you will be more readily understood.

Curly braces: { tlhIngan Hol } Klingon words in English text.
Quotes: "English" English words in Klingon text.
Angled brackets: <<quote>> Quoting spoken words in Klingon text
Asterisks: * mu'qoq* (indicates Klingon spelling of a non-canon word ) [But see the FAQ here first.]
Single Asterisk: * pong (indicates a Klingon name that's not canon )
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2.12 Can someone give me a list of all the Klingon words?

This is an understandable question, considering the (increasingly) large number of canon sources for Klingon. But the problem is, the Klingon language belongs to Paramount; it's copyrighted. If someone started distributing lists of Klingon words (or descriptions of grammar, etc.), then Paramount might view this as competition for the legitimate sale of their own products, which would be A Bad Thing.

Besides, the very act of compiling your own list, even if it's just from TKD , can be extremely educational. TKD contains erros, such as words from one side of the dictionary missing from the other. When you go through the exercise of copying the dictionary, you can correct for these glitches. And, you get a good feel for what words are in the Klingon language. Even if you can't remember the exact word you're looking for, you'll have a better chance of remembering that the word exists. It's an important step on your path to learning Klingon.

What about all those other sources for canon beyond TKD ? The KLI keeps a list of words post- TKD . Isn't this in violation of Paramount's copyrights? Well, the KLI has a license from Paramount, as an Authorized User of Klingon. But don't ask them for a complete list.

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2.13 What is pIqaD ? Does the Klingon writing I see on TV mean anything? Where can I learn how to read/write pIqaD ?

(Will Martin, Thu, 18 Aug 1994)

  1. pIqaD characters

    Okuda as artistic director of various Star Trek related ventures, creates fake written text on alien displays for some of their sets. Among those, he created a set of shapes he uses to represent written Klingon, although he arranges these characters by his own whim with no actual relationship between what is written and what it might mean. These shapes are often referred to as pIqaD characters because in TKD pIqaD is the word meaning "Klingon writing system".

  2. pIqaD

    As defined by TKD , this is "Klingon writing system (n)". Dr. Lawrence Schoen, creator and editor of HolQeD and participant on this list has assigned painstakingly beautiful images of Okuda's characters to letters of Okrand's romanized Klingon alphabet (so that tlh is a single character, for example) and created a computer font useful for anyone with a system that uses either PostScript or TrueType fonts. When someone speaks of something written "in pIqaD ", they usually mean that it is written using Lawrence's font. When they say it "appears to be written in pIqaD ", they usually mean it was written using BitStream's Paramont-endorsed TEN, count 'em, TEN useless shapes assigned arbitrarily to a ten letters of the English alphabet with no explanation whatsoever.

    Zrajm C Akfohg, of the Klingonska Akademien , Uppsala, maintains a page about "pIqaD, And How to Read It."

  3. tlhIngan Hol

    This is the language of Klingons, written or spoken. If written, it can be written "in pIqaD ", or using Okrand's romanized alphabet. We use that [romanized alphabet] here because most computer terminals that access this mailing list cannot represent pIqaD .
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2.14 When is The Klingon Encyclopedia coming out? Where can I get it?

It was a joke. There's no such thing.

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2.15 Where can I get the words to the Warrior's Anthem?

(Thanks to Steven Boozer for providing this entry, 5/29/98.)

This is a song from the Star Trek: Klingon CD-ROM from Simon & Schuster Interactive.  It later appeared in the DS9 episode Soldiers of the Empire

KCD executive producer Keith Halper explains how the song was written:

"The way that was that Hilary [Bader] wrote something in English, then she faxed it out to Mark Okrand. Then Okrand translated it to Klingon and put his literal translation below the Klingon verses. The literal translation is always skewed a bit, so if you send him `Row, row, row your boat,' you'll get back `Propel, propel, propel your craft.'" (STK: 212)

There are a few different formats.


Closed Captions

First, as they enter warp at the start of their mission:

[Worf begins by pounding fist rhythmically on console]


[Dax joins in]


[crew joins in]


[fade out]

Second, as the crew prepares to cross the Cardassian border:

[Tavana begins by pounding fist rhythmically on console]




[Martok orders, "Mahk-cha!" (Engage)]




[fade out]

Original Lyrics (by Hilary Bader)

Hear! Sons of Kahless.
Hear! Daughters too.
The blood of battle washes clean
The Warrior brave and true.
We fight, we love, and then we kill.
Our lives burn short and bright,
Then we die with honor and join our fathers in the Black Fleet where
we battle forever, battling on through the Eternal fight.

Okrand's Translation

Qoy qeylIs puqloD.
Qoy puqbe'pu'.
yoHbogh matlhbogh je SuvwI'
Say'moHchu' may' 'Iw.
maSuv manong 'ej maHoHchu'.
nI'be' yInmaj 'ach wovqu'.
batlh maHeghbej 'ej yo' qIjDaq vavpu'ma' DImuv.
pa' reH maSuvtaHqu'.
mamevQo'. maSuvtaH. ma'ov.

Okrand's literal back translation:

Hear! sons of Kahless.
Hear! daughters.
The battle blood perfectly cleans the warrior who is brave and loyal.
We fight, we're passionate, and we kill perfectly.
Our lives are not long, but they're very bright.
We certainly die, and we join our fathers in the Black Fleet.
There we always really continue fighting.
We won't stop. We continue fighting. We compete.

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2.16 Where can I go to learn about general grammar terminology?

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2.17 Is Klingon included in Unicode?

(Alan Anderson)

Not exactly. Klingon is not officially part of Unicode, but there is a recognized unofficial Unicode mapping.

The Klingon pIqaD script was on the Roadmap for inclusion in Unicode for several years before it was rejected. There were many debates on its appropriateness, with one camp maintaining that fictional scripts in general, and Klingon in particular, didn't belong in Unicode. That view was eventually defeated, with the relevant criteria ending up being whether a script is used by a large enough body of users who need to exchange data, and whether it is historically important enough with respect to existing recorded data. Klingon was rejected, but it failed because its potential users don't use it. The fact is that Klingon language publications, by and large, use the Romanized transcription presented in The Klingon Dictionary. This is arguably a chicken-and-egg situation, but nobody argued that point successfully to the relevant Unicode committees.

However, being rejected doesn't mean that Klingon is not compatible with Unicode today. Some years ago, Klingon was one of the supported languages in a popular distribution of the Linux operating system, with a pIqaD -style metafont character set mapped to a specific region of the Unicode Private Use Area. That mapping has been made somewhat more "public" in the CSUR, a published list of constructed scripts:


"The purpose of the ConScript Unicode Registry (CSUR) is to coordinate the assignment of blocks out of the Unicode Private Use Area (E000-F8FF and 000F0000-0010FFFF) to constructed/artificial scripts, including scripts for constructed/artificial languages."

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3. Language Issues

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3.1 What's the difference between TENSE and ASPECT? How I do indicate past tense in Klingon?

(Alan Anderson, Fri, 25 Oct 1996)

Let's try to clarify the differences between "tense" and "aspect" as they relate to grammar. Many students of tlhIngan Hol confuse the two concepts, and it is very important to understand how they differ.

TENSE tells when the events in a sentence occur. In English, the distinction between past, present, and future is made explicit in the sentence. For example:

Past: "I was hungry. I ate."
Present: "I am thirsty. I drink."
Future: "I will be tired. I will rest."

In these sentences, the verbs change form to match the tense, and show when the action is happening relative to "now". However, in tlhIngan Hol there is no explicit marking of tense. The relative time when the events occur is identified by other context, like a time word such as DaHjaj "today" or vaghben "five years ago". For example:

Past: wa'Hu' jIghung. jISop .
Present: DaHjaj jI'oj. jItlhutlh .
Future: wa'leS jIDoy'. jIleS .

Notice that the form of the verb does not change. By itself, the word jIghung can translate as "I was hungry," "I am hungry," or "I will be hungry." Only when the time of the sentence is stated in another way can the appropriate translation be determined. If one tells a story in English, the story is usally presented as if it happened in the past, and past tense is used. "A thousand and one years ago, two families fought one another." But see it as a movie, and it is usually told in a theoretical present tense of the actions portrayed. The time setting is established, and then the events unfold. tlhIngan Hol reads a lot like a movie script: wa'SaD wa'ben Suvchuq cha' qorDu' . There is no tense used, for tlhIngan Hol does not have tense.

ASPECT tells the degree of completion of an action in a sentence. English distinguishes between a simple "I drink" and a continuous "I am drinking." The ongoing nature is an example of aspect. In tlhIngan Hol , such an ongoing or continuous process is shown with the Type 7 verb suffixes: -taH and -lI' . -lI' also implies that there is a definite goal or stopping point for the action, a concept that English does not show simply. For example:

Neutral: jItlhutlh "I drink."
Continuous: jItlhutlhtaH "I am drinking."
Progressing: jItlhutlhlI' "I am drinking."

The "progressing" example might apply to someone in the middle of downing a glass of beer, while the "continuous" example says only that one is actively engaged in drinking. Remember also that the tense is not indicated here. The "neutral" example could also be translated as "I drank" or "I will drink."

Another type of aspect is referred to as "perfective" and says an action is already complete when the events in the sentence occur. In English, this is often done with the word "had". For example:

Neutral: "I sleep."
Perfective: "I have slept."

Both of these sentences are in present tense, but the second says that as of right now, the sleeping has already finished. The use of perfective aspect in tlhIngan Hol is shown by using the Type 7 verb suffixes -pu' and -ta' . They both say that something is finished in the context of the sentence, but -ta' has the extra implication that the action was intentional and successful, which is another concept not simply shown in English. For example:

Neutral: jIQong . "I sleep."
Perfective: jIQongpu' . "I have slept."
Accomplished: jIQongta' . "I have slept [intentionally]."

Again, remember that the perfective examples can also mean "I had slept" or "I will have slept."

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3.2 Hey! 'IwlIj jachjaj has the wrong word order! What gives?

You're not the first to notice. {{:) HoD Qanqor pointed this out in HolQeD , in an article identifying mistakes in canon . Dr. Okrand responded, indirectly, by commenting on the word order in Power Klingon . Mark Shoulson discussed this on the mailing list, and his comments are presented below.

[By way of review, 'IwlIj jachjaj is a toast in Klingon, first presented by Okrand in CK and flagged as a grammatical error in HolQeD 2:1 by Captain Krankor.]

(Mark Shoulson, Tue, 12 Oct 93)

Remember the problems we had with 'IwlIj jachjaj ? Well, Okrand must have gotten some flak about it, because he seemed to go out of his way to rub our noses in it and say it was right. His -jaj phrases in toasts and proverbs consistently have the subject before the verb. I imagine it's a poetic structure, formalized by familiarity (kind of like "Until death parts us" sounds wrong, even though it's far more normal in structure [by modern colloquial standards] than "till death do us part"). So 'IwlIj jachjaj reappears, along with reH tlhInganpu' taHjaj , reH tlhIngan wo' taHjaj , and SoH qeylIS qa' yInjaj (may the spirit of Kahless live in you). Moreover, Dorn says that the toasts have a grammatical structure of their own, and that there was a recent incident of a tourist reversing two words of the toast ( jachjaj 'IwlIj , perhaps?) and inadvertently insulting all prior and several subsequent generations of the families of those present, and the tourist's pieces were still being collected. I guess Okrand wants to remind us who's still in charge.

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3.3 How do I quote someone in Klingon. (The guard said, "Stop!")

The following is a discussion between Will Martin (WM) and Mark Shoulson (MS) on the mailing list, which describes the problem (and what we know about it) very clearly.

(Mark Shoulson, Mon, 8 Aug 1994)

MS: Okrand told us that Klingon doesn't have indirect quotes, especially if (as you are) you're treating Har like a verb of saying (which I do not contest; it makes sense). So these sentences should be recast in first-person.

WM: Thanks. I was confused on this. I thought Klingon didn't have DIRECT quotes, and since most of the examples I've seen could be interpreted either way, I had no way of knowing. The example in TKD 6.2.5 has the speaker in the first person directed to a listener in the second person, which results in a sentence that would be the same as either a direct or indirect quote. The person of the subject of the second verb doesn't change:

I told you, "Don't you interrupt me."
I told you that you are not to interrupt me.

Had the object been other than second person, then I could have better known this. The person of the subject of the second verb changes:

I told him, "Don't you interrupt me."
I told him that he should not interrupt me.

I'm curious as to where you learned that Klingon doesn't have indirect quotes.

MS: Hmm! I derived that from the same place you quoted; it never occurred to me that it could be read to imply that Klingon had no direct quotes. We've generally taken it to mean that indirect quotation did not exist in Klingon (I know that's how I always used it, and Nick, and I seem to recall Krankor also on this side.) I suppose one could find support from Okrand's translation of his examples by using direct quotes rather than reported speech, to imply that it should be treated as such. Also, it makes more sense to consider things as quotes and not objects (i.e. "I told you: 'don't interrupt me'" with a sort of colon between the sentences) because they can come in either order and are not restricted to quote-first. This raises the question of how you say "I said, 'hello'" with no addressee. If you don't consider the quote an object, it should be jIja' "nuqneH" or "nuqneH" jIja' , otherwise it should be vIja' "nuqneH" / "nuqneH" vIja' (tho vIja' "nuqneH" really looks icky to me). Maybe the second can only mean "I said 'hello' to him". This may be another Okrand-question.

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3.4 How do I indicate an indirect object ("give the knife to me")? Is there such a thing as an IO in Klingon?

(Will Martin, Sat, 10 Dec 94)

One point of confusion for beginners is that Klingon does not seem to always distinguish between direct objects and indirect objects. For those not currently studying grammar in any language, in the sentence, "I give the ball to you,", "I" is the subject, "give" is the verb, "ball" is the direct object and "you" is the indirect object. You can recognize the indirect object because of the preposition "to" in front of it.

But then, in English, we similarly confuse things by recasting the same sentence as, "I give you the ball". Now, there is no preposition. We just know from convention by the position of the nouns "you" and "ball" that the ball is the thing we are giving and "you" is the indirect object. We are not giving "you". We are giving TO "you".

This is why when you read people on this list saying, qajatlh , you should know that they mean "I'm talking to you," instead of "I speak you." Also, recognize that the real English equivalent would be, "Hey! I'm talking to YOU!" and implies a friendly shove to get your attention.

So, in Klingon, we can offer the clear version of the sentence as SoHvaD moQ vInob . Literally, this means, "For your benefit, I give the ball," or more smoothly, "I give the ball for you," and you can understand that we would more idiomatically call it "to you" instead of "for you".

We could state the same thing with SoHDaq to more literally mean "to you", but you should understand that in Klingon, this really means "to the space that you occupy", so while it would work fine to convey that you are moving the ball towards the person, it slightly less conveys the sense that you are giving the ball to the person SO THEY CAN HAVE IT. [This is only my opinion, but] it is more like saying, "I give the ball toward you."

But I digress...

In Klingon, you could also say, moQ qanob . Notice that this seems to be a mistake. The prefix qa- means that the suject is "I" and the object is "you". Meanwhile, the explicit noun "ball" is in the position that belongs to the object of the verb.

Well, you can do that in Klingon and the result is just as sensible as "I give you the ball," is in English. It usually works out best that the prefix indicates the subject and indirect object while the explicit noun indicates the direct object.

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3.5 How do I mark the head noun of a relative clause?

[See the discussion under 3.6 ]

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3.6 What's this "ship in which I fled" issue? (How do I say, "the ship in which I fled"?)

(Mark Shoulson, Thu, 18 Nov 1993)

I ran into the "ship in which I fled" problem several times. For those just tuning in, this is Yet Another relative clause problem. Quick summary: the relative clause, as we all know, is made by tacking -bogh onto the verb. Okrand talks about yaS vIleghbogh being "the officer whom I see" and muleghbogh yaS being "the officer who sees me." This led us early on to wonder about how to say "the officer whom the child hit" as opposed to "the child who hit the officer." The method we use, which I believe is one of the only extensions we know to be sanctioned by Okrand himself, is to flag the "head" noun with -'e' , yielding yaS'e' qIppu'bogh puq and yaS qIppu'bogh puq'e' . Late development: in Power Klingon , we have a proverb Hov ghajbe'bogh ram rur pegh ghajbe'bogh jaj (A day without secrets is like a night without stars), indicating that this flagging is at least optional.

Anyway, this makes for trouble when we have phrases with nouns that already have type 5 suffixes. And it also makes for trouble when the noun is being used differently in the relative clause and the main clause (e.g. "Because of the ship in which I fled"). You can cook up your own hairy examples.

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3.7 Can I use a relative clause without an explicit head noun?

(Will Martin, Thu, 15 Feb 1996)

Okay, lets pull out our TKD s. 6.2.3, page 63:

"... Like adjectives, they describe nouns... The noun modified by a relative clause is the head noun... The whole construction (relative clause plus head noun), as a unit, is used in a sentence as a noun..."

If you were to have what you might call a relative clause with no head noun [a "headless relative"], you would have no basis for using it in any sentence, since the only rule we have for using relative clause says that the whole construction, which includes a head noun, is used as a noun in a sentence. If you have no head noun, then you don't have a whole construction and you can't use it as a noun in a sentence, and if you can't do THAT, what CAN you do with it? I suggest that you can't do ANYTHING with it. A relative clause with no head noun is a word; a sentence fragment which is meaningless without context. In particular, the context that you need is a head noun to which you may apply it. Without that, there is no socket in a Klingon sentence into which you may plug it.

(SuStel, Sun, 20 Oct 1996)

L isten to the Star Trek: Klingon CD-Rom, Disk 3 (Language Lab), "\wav\3k.wav".  For those of you without this CD-Rom, I'll transcribe what Marc Okrand says in the file: Dajatlhbogh vIyajbe'. yIjatlhqa'.

Here, Okrand has very specifically used Dajatlhbogh as a relative clause without a head noun! He did not say something like Doch Dajatlhbogh vIyajbe' .

[NOTE: This evidence is considered somewhat controversial, since the sound file in question is apparently not used in the language lab.  It's still probably a good idea to avoid headless relative clauses, at least until we have more solid evidence one way or the other.]

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(Mark Shoulson; Wed, 20 Oct 93)

As I mentioned, we now finally have some evidence of double-objects in the canon , in the new tape. We have sentences in the tape like { ghIchwIj DabochmoHchugh, ghIchlIj qanob }, { ro'qegh 'Iwchab HInob }, { jagh lucharghlu'ta'bogh ?HuH ghopDu'lIj lungaSjaj } ( HuH apparently means "gall"). Note that it's not a function of causatives (in the sense that there has to be a -moH on the verb), it's a function of meaning (Don't tell me that ghojmoH doesn't mean "to teach", but rather "to cause to learn"; for one thing I don't see the difference, aside from the fact that English chooses to have an unrelated word, and for another would you then tell me that Klingon, or Hebrew for that matter, has no word for "to teach"? The only words that I know for it are derived from its causative moods). I mentioned some months back that for some reason it made sense to me to translate "They call the wind Mariah" as {"Maria" SuS lupong }, or perhaps {"Mariah" 'e' }. It looks like there's some support for such things now.

I don't see that mughojmoHwI' is necessarily best for "my teacher"; it's certainly okay, but then again so is ghojmoHwI'wI' . The first means "the one who teaches me", the second "my one who teaches". Granted, mughojmoHwI' is more accurate and unambiguous, as ghojmoHwI'wI' could mean "the teacher I hired", but the context will usually disambiguate. For lojbanists out there, it's the difference between "le ctuca be mi" vs. "le ctuca pe mi". This came up once before, in Nick Nicholas' translation of the Lord's Prayer, where he he translated "those who transgressed against us" as nuQu'maghwI'pu' (lets ignore the Qu' element for now). I thought that maghwI'pu'ma' would be better, now I'm not sure. I think you could do either.

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3.9 What does transitive / intransitive mean?

(Mark Shoulson, Thurs, 29 August 1996)

Verbs come in two flavors: transitive and intransitive. All verbs take subjects. The subject of the verb is the thing which is doing whatever the verb is talking about. In an intransitive verb, that's really the only thing that's required: someone to do it. So Qong is intransitive in Klingon (OK, Krankor, if it's transitive then we don't know what its object is): jIQong /I sleep, Qong HoD /the captain sleeps, etc. That's it. No other entity is involved in the sleeping business. Intransitive verbs will use the no-object prefixes, because they have no object.  

Transitive verbs also have an "object," which is somehow the recipient of the action. When you eat something, you're involved (as the eater), and there's also involvment of something else: the stuff you eat, the eatee. You eat the food. That's what transitive verbs are: verbs which require (if only implied) an object. vISop /I eat it , qagh Sop HoD /the captain eats the qagh . Transitive verbs will have object-taking prefixes most of the time. (note, though, that in Klingon, a transitive verb can still take no-object prefixes to indicate sort of "in general": maSop /we eat. Obviously we eat SOMETHING, but that something isn't even important enough to be ellipsized with "it." We're just saying that in general we perform the act of eating, and what the object is really doesn't matter.)  

The -moH suffix turns intransitive verbs into transitive ones (what it does to verbs that already have obvious objects is another problem). jIQong /I sleep can become qaQongmoH /I make you sleep. See the difference between vem and vemmoH , etc.  

The feature that I said was distinctive in English is something I think even Krankor will agree that Klingon probably doesn't have, based on the canon words we know. In English, many verbs are used both transitively and intransitively, and the difference between the two uses changes the meaning dramatically. In the wISop / maSop distinction, there really isn't much difference: in both cases we're saying that we engage in the activity of eating, and the only difference is whether or not we're bothering to mention what we eat. Even if Qong can take an object (I dunno, maybe you can "sleep a bed" or "sleep a night"), the transitive and intransitive uses of it would still not change the meaning much, I think we all agree: the sentence would still be saying that the subject engages in sleeping.  

But consider the English sentences "The stick broke" and "The stick broke the cup." In both sentences, we have the same verb (broke). In one it's transitive and in one it's intransitive. But look at the difference in meaning! What winds up in pieces at the end? It's very different. In the first sentence, the stick is on the receiving end of breakage, either due to some other influence or all by itself. In the second sentence, it's the stick that makes something else break. This is a pretty vast difference (especially if you're a stick). English examples like this abound ("Bob drowned."/"Bob drowned Carol." "The crane moved"/"The crane moved the girder." "The sky darkened"/"The cloud darkened the sky." etc). It's this feature that I believe Klingon lacks. The very existence of the -moH suffix suggest that. So do canon word-pairs like vem / vemmoH , poS / poSmoH , SoQ / SoQmoH , taD / taDmoH , Qop / QopmoH , etc, all of which could be translated as single words with dual usages in English ("I woke."/"I woke the prisoner." "The door opened."/"The fool opened the door." "The window closed on my fingers."/"You moron, you closed the window on my fingers." "The water froze."/"The flow of cold air froze the water." "My shoes wore out."/"The rough terrain wore out my shoes." etc).

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3.10 What is "canon"?

Webster's dictionary provides this definition of the word canon (with my emphasis):

1. can.on \'kan-*n\ n [ME, fr. OE, fr. LL, fr. L, ruler, rule, model, standard, fr. Gk kano-n [ME, prob. fr. OF, fr. LL, fr. L, model] [ME, fr. LL, fr. L, standard] [LGk kano-n, fr. Gk, model]X; akin to Gk kanna reed - more at CANE 1a: a regulation or dogma decreed by a church council 1b: a provision of canon law 2: the most solemn and unvarying part of the Mass including the act of consecration 3a: an authoritative list of books accepted as Holy Scripture 3b: the authentic works of a writer 4a: an accepted principle or rule 4b: a criterion or standard of judgment 4c: a body of principles, rules, standards, or norms 5: a contrapuntal musical composition in two or more voice parts in which the melody is imitated exactly and completely by the successive voices

With respect to Klingon, "canon" refers to "official" Klingon. There are two different perspectives on what is "canon" Klingon. On the one hand, anything produced by Paramount is official Star Trek, and thus "canon," no matter how badly it mangles the language. Most Klingonists, on the tlhIngan-Hol list anyway, interpret canon in a more restricted way, to those works which are verifiably from Okrand. Any time you see a reference to canon in the context of Klingon (in particular tlhIngan Hol ), it's safe to assume the more restrictive interpretation.

Now that we've answered what is "canon" , we can ask, what is canon?

  • The Klingon Dictionary (paperback from Pocket Books
  • Conversational Klingon (audio cassette from Pocket Books)
  • Power Klingon (audio cassette from Pocket Books)
  • The Klingon Way (paperback from Pocket Books)
  • Klingon for the Galactic Traveler (paperack from Pocket Books)
  • Language Lab (in Star Trek: Klingon ) (CD-ROM from Simon & Schuster Interactive)
  • HolQeD (selected material) (journal of the Klingon Language Institute ) [From time to time, Okrand will use HolQeD to present new words, clarify spellings, and illucidate grammatical points. In addition, words associated with other works which Okrand is responsible for, such as vocabulary from the Language Lab portion of Star Trek: Klingon , will be published in HolQeD .]
  • Skybox Trading Cards [Some cards have text in English and tlhIngan Hol , written by Okrand.]
  • ...and other random tidbits, such as the Star Trek: 30th Anniversay Commemorative issue of the British magazine, The Radio Times ; and anything verifiably from Okrand, such as personal quotes from qep'a' wejDIch (the third annual convention of the KLI , where Okrand made a personal appearance).

There is no single (official) collection of all canon tlhIngan Hol . However, the KLI maintains a list of new words , which attempts to catalogue canon words that have surfaced since the printing of TKD . As new words become known, they will eventually find their way into the new words list.

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3.11 What is the "prefix trick"?

(Eric Andeen, 2/23/99)

The "prefix trick" is a bit of Klingon grammar.  If a verb has an indirect object (IO) that is first or second person (me, you us) and a direct object (DO) that is third person, then instead of using the usual {IO-vaD DO verb} formation, the verb prefix can be changed to indicate the indirect object.  Examples:

SoHvaD matlh vIpong
"I call you Maltz"
becomes matlh qapong
jIHvaD paq yInob
"Give me the book"
becomes paq HInob
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3.12 Where can I find out about new grammar rules?

Terrence Donnelly maintains a website with Klingon Grammar Addenda . This is an excellent place to read about what we've learned about Klingon that's not in other published works.

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Last modified: Saturday, July 23, 2005